Politics: President Clinton Deserves a Break

Clinton: Victim of Dirty Politics

President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton | Source

Truman: 'The Buck Stops Here'

President Harry S Truman
President Harry S Truman | Source

Dirty politics is as old as Moses, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. But when it rears its ugly head, it's always dirty pool.

President Bill Clinton is the latest victim, but only one of a long line of U.S. presidents and other prominent Americans to suffer the calumnies that invariably ride the coattails of great men.

Clinton, of course, is far from perfect; but aren't we all!

Is it really perfection we seek when we cast our ballots in presidential elections? Rather, aren't we looking for someone who can put -- and keep -- this nation on the right path; someone who can steer us toward economic and social justice ... for all?

Politicians, shamefully, sometimes stoop to personal attacks when their arguments fall short; worse yet, political parties sometimes adopt clandestine policies aimed at discrediting their opponents.

Dirty Politics Not a Redundancy

As the target of dirty politics (the term is not really a redundancy,) Clinton is in good company: Harry S. Truman, in my humble opinion an uncommon "common man" that history will place among our great presidents, was often derided as a failed haberdasher; Jimmy Carter was scorned as a lightweight and Southerner, a popular target of voice imitators; Gerald Ford was referred to as a buffoon who tripped getting off airplanes and, not unlike Spiro Agnew, sent golf balls soaring into unsuspecting crowds at pro-am tour events; and then, of course, there's Dan Quayle (I hope that's spelled correctly; it does have an "e" at the end, doesn't it?)

Sure, sometimes a little humor is appropriate. But when it's taken too far, when it's an organized strategy and contemptuous of the person involved, it's downright dirty pool.

Purveyors of Dirty Politics

To the purveyors of dirty politics, it matters little whether Clinton is working hard to reduce an inherited multi-million dollar deficit or fighting to ease the pain of citizens who live in fear of crime. They could care less that he's fighting an uphill battle with entrenched interest groups to try to gain desperately needed health care for millions of Americans who have little or no health insurance.

Their agenda disregards the benefits that could come from Clinton's efforts to solve many of today's major problems and requires that he be torpedoed at all costs.

Trash his presidency, they believe, and he'll lose the next election to someone more conservative ... perhaps Quayle or Bob Dole -- or maybe Ross Perot.

Bickering Over Haiti

The most recent example of dirty pool applied to Clinton is the political bickering over Haiti.

Whatever one believes about Haiti, it's dirty pool to relentlessly attack the president on every pretense.

First, Clinton's detractors cried that there would be a bloodbath if we "invaded" Haiti; then, they said that if any Americans were killed in the effort to clean up the mess, Clinton would pay the consequences; now, if (Haiti ruler Raoul) C├Ędras doesn't leave Haiti and (former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand) Aristide doesn't restore order and reinstate democracy, the blame will fall on Clinton.

The truth: Clinton has succeeded beyond his dreams -- or anyone's -- in his efforts to relieve the suffering of Haitians and to bring democracy and order to that country. He's still trying.

Give the guy a break!

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Oct. 8, 1994. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

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Comments 14 comments

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

Here we are today and he is considered a great man

If pause for a while and go to one of his talks it cost big money

Hats off.

As you say we are all human.

Thank you for a repeat of yesterday


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

You're very kind, MrMarmalade. And a tip of the hat to you!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 9 years ago

Great column! [Disclaimer, when you published it, I was working in the Clinton administration in Washington.]

Clinton would have been wise enough and smart enough to avoid the morass in which we find ourself in Iraq. And he would never have balooned the national debt as George W. Bush has done.

Quayle and Bush are remarkably similar in their lack of intelligence and wisdom. Fortunately, Quayle never made it into the White House. Unfortunately, Bush did.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Ralph. The last seven years would have been vastly different (and better) if Clinton had been at the helm. Of course he would not have had to make his first priority the ultra-rich, the big contractors and the Evangelical right. I have one compliment for George Herbert Walker Bush: He wasn't as bad as his offspring!


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 9 years ago

Bring Bill Back, even if it means Hillary has to come, too! I love me some Bill! :)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Bill's looking better every day, Isabella.


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 9 years ago

Ooh! I didnt see the youtube the first time! Hot damn what a sexy mother!! Love you, Bill!!! ;)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Glad you like the video, Isabella! It probably was added after you first saw the hub (when I learned how to include videos on hubs.)


dutch84 profile image

dutch84 8 years ago

i think that most people forgave Bill pretty quickly


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Good piece, William. As I was reading it, I kept thinking, "What's going on? Is this guy crazy? Why is he writing about Clinton as if he were still the president?" Then I read, at the end, that you'd originally written the pice in 1994. OK!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Remember, the current prez, Bush43, was the candidate most Americans would like to have a beer with. Oh, excuse me...he promised CHANGE, just not the kind WE thought he was talking about. It's looking like the next prez will be chosen by the same idiotic criteria...Best Beer Bud or Change. Newsflash...no matter who's taking the Oath of Office next January 20th, things WILL change. If this country doesn't have the good sense to put the Clintons back in the White House to un-do Idiot Boy's messes, then we deserve whatever version of "change" we get, even if it isn't the one Obama's fans...yes, FANS...thought it would be.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I agree, dutch84. Except for those way-out right-wingers who still think the world is flat.

Thank you, Constant Walker. When I started publishing my old columns on Hubpages I placed the disclaimer at the beginning of the hub. But when I submitted a few columns to ezinearticles.com they deleted the disclaimer entirely. I realized, then, that virtually everything on the Internet is undated and one rarely knows when an item was published. Also, as a journalist, I realized that having to read the disclaimer before getting to point of the column could discourage some visitors from reading the entire column. Sorry for that.

I'm afraid, JamaGenee, that if McCain should happen to get elected (two stolen elections are enough, though) there won't be much change on the big issues of war, taxes, national debt, Constitutional rights or veterans' benefits. I like the Clintons, too, but Hillary's plan to give the big pharmaceutical companies a major role in her health plan concerns me. I'm am also unhappy about both Hillary and Barack Obama for failing to speak out forcefully against the Bush Administration's many impeachable offenses -- and their unwillingness in one debate to pledge to bring the troops home from Iraq by 2013. I am not a "fan" of Obama, but I favor him to win the Demcratic nomination and the presidency in the fall.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

You're right, J.D., there wouldn't be much change if McBush...uh, McCain...should become the next prez. I've never trusted him, and with all due respect to other former POWs, it's because, to survive 5 years of captivity, McC HAD to do whatever it took to stay alive. Survival skills so ingrained that he couldn't possibly have left them behind when returned to the States. Even before he was a serious contender for the presidency, I began noticing how his "philosophies" and "beliefs" would change overnight. Whatever was necessary to HIS patootie. Not a good sign for a future prez.

Hillary including Big Pharma in her health plan disturbs me too. But BP is currently so entrenched in the dispensing of "health care" in this country that there's no way to NOT include them for the short term. Just as we need to wean ourselves off of our dependence on oil, we have to wean ourselves off the sacred cow of health "insurance"...what a joke!...through the workplace before we can ever catch up to the rest of the civilised world with universal medical coverage. Other than that, Hillary is still infinitely more qualified to be the next prez than the charismatic orator from Illinois.

I'm as puzzled as you as to why more noise isn't made on the campaign trail about BushCo's too-numerous-to-count impeachable offenses. Perhaps because the idea is to look FORWARD, not backward...or because Americans are still weary from the Ken Starr debacle of only a decade ago??


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I agree about McCain, JamaGenee, but I'd still like to see the Democrats raise cain a little more vociferously about the behavior of Bush and his lackeys over the last seven and one-half years. How much does it take to get them riled up? Thanks for your perceptive comments.

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